Thursday, December 30, 2010

christmas 2010

Christmas is over for another year.  It's SO over, that we already have our trees down and decorations put away!  It just seemed the right thing to do. 

It was a good Christmas.  Josh, Nicholas and Shodie were here to join us this year.  It's been a few years since we woke up to a big Christmas.   

Then we had a long wait before the rest of the kids joined us at 4:00.  Dinner was made.  Table set. 

Then the chaos that is Christmas. 

It was Avery's first Christmas and she knew exactly what needed to be done. 

It was a good day.  A long day.  But an even longer day for the big kids and grandkids.  I'm thinking we need to rethink our Christmas Day plans next year so the kids might be able to enjoy the spirit of Christmas rather than watching the clock to see where they need to be next....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

lump crab

Do you ever question your sanity?  Whether everything is really okay with you?  Mentally?  Or do you pass it off as just getting older....

We were getting ready to head to some friends the other night,for some holiday cheer.... I offered to bring an appetizer.  My first choice was going to be crab tarts but I didn't have any Dungeness in the freezer nor could I find any cracked Dungee at the supermarket.  You can buy canned crab off the shelf, but what's "lump crab"?  Seriously?  Is that the name of a type of crab--like Dungeness or King?  Maybe a combination of crab?  Anyhow, we opted against using a generic crab.

Plan B was to take some prawns over with a little cocktail sauce.  That would be festive, and who doesn't love to chomp into a nice, cold prawn? 

Unless it's a nice, cold, RAW prawn!  I don't know what I was thinking.  Mike offered to peel them while I got ready.  I told him to rinse them good, and I showed him how to then lay them on a triple layer of paper towel to dry them off good.  I'd even gone so far as to lay them on a platter, surrounding a dish of cocktail sauce.  It was all so nice and pretty.

Then it happened.  I grabbed one to take a bite and it was like I had been hit over the side of the head.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!  How did I go from fresh frozen, in the freezer, to the platter?  When did I stop having the good sense to cook raw seafood??? 

Can you imagine how mortified I would have been had I taken that pretty little plate of tidbits to our friends for their gathering?  Really.  Seriously.  Can you???

This isn't the first thing that has had me questioning my mental state of mind.... but the worst. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

merry christmas

My letter to Santa was short this year.  I asked for peace.  Peace for my family and friends who are struggling with relationships, finances, and grief. 

If I could, I'd wrap my arms around all of you and keep you safe. 

You're in my prayers every day and my hope is that you have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year filled with good things and small miracles. 

I pray that no matter what kind of Christmas you're having, you can feel God's love and blessings sprinkled around you in all that you do. 

M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S !

Thursday, December 23, 2010

it was so worth it

Hey, sis.  I suspect you're sound asleep as it's midnight on the east coast.  I just wanted to let you know that I ate a cinnamon roll for you.  I know how you're going in withdrawals. 

Mike makes a batch every year for Christmas.  It makes four pie pan sizes.  Some years they're huge, too big for me, but this year he really hit it on the nail.  I wasn't going to have one.  My blood sugar, you know.  But that would have been just plain rude not to eat one.  Disrespectful.  So I did.  And I can feel my blood sugar rise as we speak.  But it was so worth it.  Especially with that dabble of butter melted on top.  Oh.  So.  Good. 

It's going to be a long night.  I'm washing bedding....  This isn't something I would normally do at 5:15 at night, but Hunter had a little accident during nap time.  You would think I'd have learned by now.... and put a rubber pad underneath the kids during nap time.  But I don't.  Well, not always.  And especially not Hunter because it's been a long time since he's had an accident.  So the bed got stripped down to the pad and the comforters and sheets are being washed.   It's just that those big, bulky comforters take forever to dry.  You have to keep turning and fluffing them.  Well, maybe by 10:00, it'll all be done.

We had a good craft project day today.  On the spur of the moment, we decided to make gingerbread houses.  Okay, first off....this isn't something you do on the spur of the moment.  Had I given it any thought, we would have done the frame of the gingerbread house yesterday or the day before and let the frosting set.

OR.... here's an idea.... Maybe I should  have tried making one on my own before subjecting to the little kids to it! 

But they had a blast and put so much energy into it.  They really concentrated.

I felt horribly bad when the roof would slide off... or the walls would collapse.  But we didn't let it deter (Peeezzzzz nahhhhhhh) and I'd re-caulk it with frosting and we'd continue on.  I did find that putting a graham cracker on the bottom to kinda hold it all in place was a good move. 

All in all, it was a fun morning and I'm so proud of the little kids for sticking with it. 

Then when their moms came, and they rushed them over to look at it, you just knew how proud they were.  It's times like this that it makes babysitting so worthwhile. 

Hope you're having a good time.  N.

Christmas traditions

House decorated.  Check.
Cards sent.  Check.
Cookies made.  Check.
Tree decorated.  Check.
Christmas Day dinner planned.  Check.
Packages wrapped.  Check.
Yep, it looks like we're pretty much ready for Christmas to arrive.  We still have a couple gifts to deliver, but will hopefully get that done Christmas Eve.  We've been to a couple Holiday gatherings already.  A new "first" was a Winter Solstice/Eggnog party, but we opted for a wine tasting party instead.  What fun! 

I love traditions.  Especially Christmas.  We wake up extra early.  The kids arrive.  We have a nice breakfast.  We leisurely open presents.  We visit.  Laugh. Talk.  It's a good day.  NOT! 

Oh, we have a wonderful Christmas, but ours is an extended family and some year's it's like putting together a puzzle, trying to make all the pieces fit.  But they do.  Every year our "tradition" is a little different.  When the kids were small and still living at home, it was easy.  Our dinner was usually ham and scalloped potatoes.  Bucky made Chinese food a couple years.  But now my menu varies depending on what time of day the kids arrive.  Bucky and Michelle also have her family to visit--her mom/dad and grandparents.  Plus it's her brother's birthday Christmas Eve!  Talk about a full schedule.  Poor kids.  Course, they somehow manage to fit it all in. 

But some times it's hard to work around all these other commitments into a holiday that also works for us.  I mean, really, who wants to wait until 4:00 in the afternoon to open presents!  I'd rather be in my pajamas recuperating!   

Because our holiday has become somewhat "un"traditional, I try to put a little twist on opening presents.  Maybe I'll think of a theme and buy gifts that fit within that theme.  For instance, if one of the kids was into gardening, their gifts would fall within that theme--gloves, yard art, picture of gardens or flowers. 
One year the kids couldn't open up their gift until they guessed what was INSIDE, based on the wrapping.  That was fun.  Bucky got his right off.  A DVD player.  His outside wrapping consisted of an electronics gift card hanging as a tag.  Tracy's present was a big box tied with laundry line.  For the life of her, she could not guess what her present was.  The morning was dragging on.  We were getting giddy from laughter.  Finally, we had to start giving her verbal clues.  I mean, the poor girl just could not figure out what was inside her box.  Bucky started guessing, trying to help his sister.  We gave Tracy clues that had to do with laundry, washing, etc.  Finally, Bucky yells out "IT'S A LONGENBERGER BASKET!"  How he ever figured it out, and not Tracy, I'll just never know.  But it was a fun game.
This year I'm not putting any name tags on the gifts.  The kids will decide who gets to open the present.... based on the outside wrapping.  On each present is a separate little gift, acting as the clue as to who the present might be for.  This clue is based on a gift list I either got from one of the kids or based on a recent conversation, or a hobby of theirs....  Sound hard?  I don't think so.  Okay, so to give you an idea....  Let's say the present is for Mike and I know he loves baseball cards, so I attach baseball cards to the ribbon and bow.  Course he would know it was for him.  But not all gifts are going to be so easy to read and could go to a couple people.  It should be fun.... 

We've noticed a new tradition happening this year....  Toys appearing as Christmas decorations on the tree.  Where's Waldo?  Merry Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

child labor

Dear Sir:

Thank you for contacting us regarding the recent accusation that we use child labor in our day care facility.  
Hunter, I told you we shouldn't have been jumping on the bed.
I can assure you that the children that are entrusted into our good hands and kind hearts receive nothing but the best treatment. 
Hunter, that thing isn't going to get you!
You're welcome to visit our day care facility any time you feel it's necessary to check on the welfare of these children.

You missed a spot, Hunter.  Then YOU do it, Ellis!
Please call before dropping by so we can ensure the house is in order.    

No Babies Were Hurt Day Care
The clock says it's time to quit now, Hunter. 
What can I say, they WANTED to vacuum!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a glitter week

A note to my sister. 

Hey, sis!  Hope you're having a great time in PA with the kids and grandkids.  We had a busy week here. 

It started with baking some of Mike's favorite cookies.  The kids like to refer to them as "pa's special" cookies.  And they are special.  I bet you can never guess what the secret ingredient is.... 

Ellis is the more exacting of the two.  She's very attentive to detail and will take her time to get the right amount of dough on the sheet.  Hunter, on the other hand, believes Bigger is Better.  Especially when it comes to cookies, so why not just drop it all on top of one another.  

Last week was also a huge glitter week.  When it comes to glitter, Hunter is the King hands down!  This kid lives to sprinkle glitter!  I made some "frames" out of popsicle sticks for the kids to paint and glitter.  They had so much fun.  Did I tell you Bucky stopped by this weekend and goes, "yea, thanks for the glitter."  Ha!  But I know Bucky was impressed with them.  He just has to be the "tough" dad.  I put a picture of Avery in one, that Hunter picked out.  And another one of Josh, Shodie, Ellis, Kona, and Hunter--the one of them all on top of each other on the stairs.  When Hunter saw that picture in the frame, his eyes just lit up!   
How could I not share that with his dad?  And, what's a little glitter anyway.... :O  I just wish I had taken some pictures of them.  They really were so very sparkling. 

Let's see....  it's been cold.  Really cold.  We still have lots of snow on the ground.  Frozen to the trees.  Everything is pretty right now.  Maybe we'll have a White Christmas.  Love you.  N.

Monday, December 20, 2010

blueberry boy

Dear mom: 

Today I had blueberries for lunch.  They were good.  Ellis didn't want her's, so I ate them.  They were good too.

Love, Hunter

Sunday, December 19, 2010

annual sugar cookie decorating extravaganza

an email to my sister
sent Sunday, December 12

We had another successful Sugar Cookie Decorating Party.  I was up and at it by 7:00, getting blueberry muffins made and the breakfast quiche warmed up.  I cheated and bought cut up fruit this year...  I had planned on buying one of those fruit platters that Fred Meyers carries.... it used to be $14.95.... is now $24.95....  So I bought a smaller container and then added other fruit to it. 
I never buy orange juice but on occasions because I know the girls like it, and we also had hot chocolate and coffee (with Baileys).  It was a decent spread for breakfast.  Then for lunch, we had mini croissants filled with chicken salad.  I love putting grapes in it for an added crunch and tanginess. 

The table got set up with all my mini spoons and knives, toothpicks, paint brushes; different tools to use to spread the frosting and make designs with.  And don't forget the frosting.  I think I made 10 pounds of powdered sugar icing this year with only a little left over!  Yes, we were zinging! 

Okay, so this is how the event starts out:  We're crazy about details when decorating the cookies.  We make the snowman look life like; the trees are sparkling with miniature lights.  The snow globe looks as if it's just been shaken and the caps and mittens look like they could actually keep you warm. 

Then, as the morning moves on, and we realize we still have hundreds of cookies to decorate.... we start decorating with less details.  Maybe the snowman only gets eyes and a scarf around his neck.  Maybe the snow globe looks like it hasn't been shaken in years.... 

Then, another hour goes by.  Our pile of undecorated cookies doesn't look like it's getting any smaller.  We start slapping on the frosting a little faster.  Instead of individual cookies, each with their own personality, they're all beginning to look like twins. 

Still, we keep at it.  An hour.  Two.  Then three.  Tracy, Michelle, Shodie, Jill, and I.  Oh, and Miss Ellis who's also here at her first Annual Sugar Cookie Decorating Event.  She's the creative one this year, making sugar cookie SANDWICHES with frosting between them.  Oh, so good!  And Avery got to join us this year and was so good sitting in her high chair, enjoying all the crumbs we gave her.  Hunter was hanging out with his dad today, which was probably for the best.  I had a little table set up for the two little kids to sit at and decorate/eat to their heart's content, but I have to admit, it would have been a little more intense had Hunter been there.  He has so much joy in him, and he would have been so thrilled with each cookie he had decorated, that he wouldn't have been able to contain himself!  Still, it would have been fun to have him there enjoying our family tradition.

Anyway, it was good to have Ellis and Avery there with us this year.  A girl's party.  But I'm glad it's done for another year.  It's a LOT of work, but well worth it.  We have fun.   

Now we have all these cookies to eat, and share, and eat some more.  It's almost a shame to eat them, because they're so pretty!  But we all manage.  I keep mine in the freezer so they're a little less accessible... a "little" less accessible.... 

Merry Christmas! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

an email to my sister

An email to my sister (annual sugar cookie decorating party)
Sunday, December 12

Morning. Seems like forever since I've written, but it's only been a day. I'm looking out the window at all the beautiful snow. We got about 5" yesterday, and with the Christmas lights twinkling in them is so gorgeous.

I'm pooped. Still have this darn cold. Thank you Hunter. I started feeling it Wednesday or Thursday, and now today it's in my chest and I can't cough the darn stuff up. Maybe after my shower. I woke up with my nose all crusted. Fun. But it sure has thrown me for a loop.

I had a full day planned Friday and it was all organized--doctor appt, grocery shopping, make cookies, bake quiche, make chicken salad, get everything ready for Saturday morning. What I failed to add onto the list was a 2 hour nap first thing in the morning. So from there, my day just went downhill.

I came home from my doctor's appt and just felt shitty so thought I'd take a little nap. Well, then grocery shopping ended up being a bigger deal than usual. My brain isn't working at even half capacity and I found myself going back and forth from one end of the store to the other, picking up items I forgot. Never mind I have the list, in order that I shop. It took me longer to shop than I had anticipated and we didn't get home until 1:00. I told Mike to just put the groceries on the table and I would put them away AFTER I got my dough made and chilling. Well, several items I needed were in the bags and I ended up having to scrounge through them. I had groceries out and laying all over the place.

Okay--Batch One. Went okay. It went into the fridge. I decided to make Batch Two and Three together, so I didn't have to waste time washing my bowls and blender, etc., after Batch Two. I have a Kitchen Aid and figured it could handle the load. So in went the 2 pounds of butter and six cups of sugar. Then the first six eggs. It was then that I noticed that oil was dripping out of my beater! Thankfully.... and don't tell anyone.... but I just wiped it down and hoped that none actually dripped into the batter. Hey, I wasn't in the mood. So I continue adding the "one egg at a time" and had added two more eggs when the third slipped from my hand and fell into the bowl. Within mano-seconds it had disappeared from sight, as I frantically tried to shut the damn machine off and salvage my dough! I kept pulling the lever closest to me, which turns out is not the on/off, but the lever to lift the blades up. By the time I reached to the other side of the machine and turned it off, there wasn't an egg shell to be seen....

So here's my dilemma.... Do I keep going or do I toss the batter out and start all over.....? Remember: This is 2 pounds of butter and 6 cups of sugar and 8 eggs.... That's a lot of $$$. And if I can't SEE the egg shells, what are the chances you'll be able to FEEL them as you bite into the cookie....? What would you have done?

Okay, so I tossed it all out and started over. This time, I still did the double batch, which was mistake number one to begin with. But instead of cracking the egg into the bowl, one at a time, which is a challenge in itself with a Kitchen Aid because you only have this little bit of room.... I cracked all the eggs into a bowl and let them slide in that way. Mission accomplished! Now the butter, sugar, and eggs are blended and I've started adding flour. It became clear that I was not going to get 14 cups of flour into this bowl. I don't know what I was thinking. So I poured the batter into a larger bowl and ended up mixing it by hand. Yea, you know how easy that was in my weakened state? Not fun.

So the dough is in the fridge, chilling. I'm putting groceries away and making quiches and doing all that other stuff. I'm so very tired. It's 5:00 by now. The dough has been chilling about 2.5 hours.... I'm looking at the clock asking myself how on earth I'm going to pull all this off with the few hours left. But I go for it. I flour the dining room table (it's granite) and start rolling. As soon as the dough hits the table, it melts on me. I scrape it off, add more flour, try again. It melts. I keep doing this, adding a little more flour to the table, to the rolling pin. To the cookie cutters.  Nothing. I can't get it to roll. It just turns to mush. So I gather it together and throw it in the fridge and grab another handful. Same thing. If I'm lucky, I can get one or two cookies cut out before it melts on me. I'm sick. I'm frustrated. I'm getting mad. I've never had this kind of problem before and I've never let the dough chill for 6 hours. I keep trying, with little success. I finally get two cookie trays filled and am feeling triumphant! Then Shodie and Josh arrive....

She starts helping me. By now, I think the table has become 'seasoned' enough. And the dough has chilled just a little more. And she's having a little more luck than me. But then, as the dough cooks, it melts out of shape. Georgia, it just kept going from bad to worse! I've never had this happen. My snowmen looked like a snowball. My stars looked like starfish. My Christmas trees looked like they were covered in so much heavy snow that all you could see was this rounded shape. Then Shodie asks, "did you use any different ingredients this time?" And I did! I've always used Tillamook butter. This time I used not only a Fred Meyer brand but butter from Costco (Lando Lakes maybe?). Plus I've always used nothing other than Pillsbury Flour and I've converted to generic brands. Same with sugar. So is this why I had so much trouble with my cookies this year?

Bottom line.... we eventually got done. Shodie took over rolling the cookies out and I was in charge of putting them in/taking them out of the oven. This was something I could manage at 8:00 at night! I think we finally finished around 8:15 or 8:30, but man what a ride it had been. The whole event was just disastrous from the beginning. I finished cleaning up and just went to bed. I was so sick and so weak and so tired and I hurt so badly, that I could barely stand. I think mostly my ego was hurt.... I've never struggled so much with a simple cookie recipe and then to have Shodie be able to pull it off....
This was last year's batch, but I was too tired to take pics this year.
Anyway, if you need to go to the bathroom or get another cup of coffee, now would be the time. Chapter One has been written.  N.

Friday, December 17, 2010

chillin with old man winter

Oh, the weather outside is frightful....
But the fire is so delightful...

Well, in my mind it's wonderfully delightful.
Especially on this chilly 11 degree morning. 
Makes you not even want to crawl out of bed. 

But today is a glorious day, despite the cold. 
The ground, covered with frozen snow,
with little snippets of color and past life showing through.

The promise of a better today.
Knowing that today is reserved for
just me and my hubby.

A day with no chaos.  No struggles. 
No yelling, screaming, fighting. 
No toys to trip over.  No struggles with naptime.
A free day    
To do errands.  To read.  To wrap presents.
To catch our breath so we can do it all over again on Monday.

Have a wonderful day! 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

an email to my sister (just an ordinary day)

An email to my sister. 

Thursday, December 17. 
Okay... Finally, I have a minute to get my email off to you.  I had good intentions this morning, but it's getting hard for me to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m....  A combination of not feeling well, snuggling in my warm bed, and the cold bedroom.  But my trusty alarm clock is there every 15 minutes, shaking me, making sure I don't stay in bed when he thinks I should be up....   So I eventually give in.  Get up.  Sit here at the table for 15 minutes or so, NOT drinking coffee because I don't feel good.  Then I grab my book.... the same book I've been trying to get read for months now.... and head upstairs to ride the bike.  With that done, I barely have time to come down, get my shower (if there's even time), get dressed, and be ready with a smile and love in my heart for when the first grandkids arrive....  I'm almost exhausted by this time.  

So, I decided to make a big batch of cabbage salad, like I said.  I emptied the produce drawer of a whole green head of cabbage, a red head (which I ended up throwing out), a green pepper, an orange pepper, a few stalks of celery, some diced onions that were leftovers from other meals, some chopped green onions, and a bunch of parsley.  Then I chopped up some dried cherries (but you can use raisins or cranraisins) and almonds.  And the dressing is just the typical mayo/sugar/vinegar recipe.  I'm talking a HUGE bowl.  Okay, so now you don't think it went that smoothly do you???? 

I had no sooner started chopping the cabbage..... Did I mention it was around 8:10 a.m..... about the same time I make breakfast for the kids?  Yea, I don't know what I was thinking.   But they could wait.  I'm chopping away and the kids are running in and out of the kitchen, throwing open the fridge door.  At one point I went to close it and the stack of Styrofoam containers from last night's Chinese dinner went flying to the floor.  Chinese food everywhere.  So I stop chopping to clean up the mess.  Well, one thing led to another and next thing you know, I'm cleaning out and scrubbing the produce drawers out and wiping out the fridge.  While on my hands and knees, I notice how grossly disgusting the front of the fridge grate is so I pull it off, pull out the 2" thick pile of lint, or whatever-it-is.  The grate got washed down.  All this, at the same time I'm supposed to be fixing breakfast and making the cabbage salad.  But I'm good. I can multi-task.  So I keep at it.  Get the kids breakfast made.  The fridge cleaned out.  The salad made.  

No sooner did I get that mess cleaned up that the kids were at the table for their glitter project!  Lordy lordy does Hunter have a love for glitter!  This from a boy who will spend very little time doing crafts, seconds.  But give him some popsicle sticks, paint, and glitter, and he's good for an hour!  I sent several glitter "frames" home for the mommies last night, and glitter ornaments.  Let them enjoy some of the flyaway glitter for a few days!  But it makes the kids so giddy.  They're so happy with their little projects, making something for their moms and dads.  So, what's a little glitter on the table.  On the chair.  On the chair pads.  On the carpet.  On me.  On my face.  On my clothes....In the whole scheme of things, it's so minor.  But I have to come up with some new craft projects for them to do.  

I've managed to do four loads of laundry today, in between salad making, fixing breakfast, serving lunch, reading, changing poopy diapers, and craft projects.  An apple crisp just came out of the oven.  The Juncos, Chicadees, and Siskins have been fed.  Dogs have been let out, brought back in, let out, brought back in, let out, brought back in, at least that many times TIMES 2.  Hunter and Ellis are napping. 

So, this is my day.  Not much different from most other days.  Uneventful.  Boring.  Lacking substance, creativity, and love.  Just an ordinary day.  

Anyway, the clock is ticking before the kids will be awake and I need to do a few more things.  It's only 1:30.  I should be able to accomplish a few more things before the day is over.  Mike will be leaving at 4:15 today for a Lions training session.  They learn how to load and unload passengers on to a helicopter in preparation for tomorrow night's Flight Night.  This is where locals can take a helicopter up and over the Mendenhall Valley to look at Christmas lights.  It's an annual event and one of their  biggest fundraisers.  But it will be a long, cold night for the volunteers.  So I need to get all my stuff done before he leaves tonight so I can give the kids my total, undivided attention. 

Glad you're having a good trip.  Be sure to tell the kids hello for us and a Merry  Christmas.  N.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


We've had a little snow here in Juneau, maybe 6-8".  Then it warms up, rains, and turns to slop.  Then it freezes and the roads turn into a choppy, bumpy mess.  Then the roads get grated and we end up with an ice rink for a road.  Then it snows again and we start all over. 

My back yard:

My favorite Katsura tree.  Beautiful no matter how you look at it:

Some Viburnum with Kona and Sadie in the background:

A Japanese Maple:

The grandkids shoveling pathways: 

Why is it bird houses always are the perfect yard art?